Riding in Spain

Why I fell in love with Los Alamos…

Imogen Brown from In The Saddle tells us about her trip to Los Alamos in October 2017. Here, she highlights the best bits of her trip from the friendly hosts to the exhilarating beach riding.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Being our best-selling European destination, I had high hopes for my visit to Los Alamos in October. I am pleased to report that it didn’t disappoint. From the moment I arrived at the airport and met Andrew (one of our hosts for the week) I instantly felt relaxed. And when I arrived at the villa I was greeted by Rhiannon who had prepared a delicious lunch of Spanish omelette, local meats, cheeses and bread.

Your hosts Andrew and Rhiannon.

The Los Alamos villa very quicky feels like home. With the open plan dining room, lounge and kitchen you can easily help yourself to a drink, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, and recline into one of their comfy sofas. Alternatively, there are plenty of places within the gardens or by the pool where you can read a book or catch some sunshine.

The lounge and dining area of Los Alamos.

As well as this homely atmosphere the most important thing, as with any riding holiday, is the horses. I can’t remember the last time I went to a riding centre and wanted to bring all of the horses I managed to ride home. Rachel (our horse manager) is a marvel at matching horse and rider and this special talent really gives you as a rider a sense of confidence when mounting up on the first morning.

Each of the horses at Los Alamos is fit and forward going and within the herd there is a fabulous mixture of horses including pure-bred Andalusians, Arabs, Thoroughbreds and cross breeds. From confidence giving steady horses to more challenging horses for an experienced rider they really have a horse for everyone.

One of the lovely Andalusian Horses they have at Los Alamos, Pitu.

Throughout the week I rode three fabulous Andalusians each with their own personality. Pitu, Taverna and Hercules made my week truly special and if I could have fitted them in my suitcase I would have brought them all home.

Hercules, one of my horses during my stay.

All of the horses are well-schooled, forward going and polite. These horses are a credit to Los Alamos and are one of the main reasons people return year on year. These fabulous horses, matched with the gorgeous surroundings that you get to explore with them makes for a truly special experience. Whether it is meandering through the natural park, cantering on the beach or galloping up the many firebreaks you never know what you are going to find around the next corner.

Shady forest trails protect you from the sun.

The guides at Los Alamos – Rachel, Jose and Roberto – know their horses and the area you are riding so well that you instantly feel comfortable and relaxed. How they remember all of the routes and trails around the forest is beyond me! It feels like they know where every twist, turn, rock and tree root can be found and the surefooted horses know which lines to take to keep you and themselves on track.

Rachel, Jose and Roberto, your guides at Los Alamos.

Twice a week you get to experience the thrill of cantering down the beaches of Cape Trafalgar on your mighty steed with the wind in your hair. There really is no feeling like it and I don’t think you could have wiped the grin off my face those mornings if you’d tried! You ride to match the tides and so during my stay this meant mounting up and leaving the yard early in the morning as the sky changed from jet black to inky blue and the sun started to peak above the horizon.

There is nothing better than riding in the surf at sunrise.

Meandering through the forest with a short canter to blow away the cobwebs, we hit the beach and the horses all perked up. After a short blast to get used to your horse on the beach, it was down to the water’s edge where we really saw what our horses could do. The hard wet sand makes for a fabulous surface and I couldn’t have thought of a better way I wanted to start my morning.

Cantering down the beach on my favourite horse of the week, Hercules.

The last thing that I think makes Los Alamos special is the food. Whether you love Spanish food or you would prefer something else, Rhiannon has a brilliant way to meet all dietary requirements. Lunches are all at local bars with simple but tasty food, with Spanish omelettes, fish, chicken, pork and a variety of vegetarian dishes. Home cooked dinners courtesy of Rhiannon ranged from spaghetti and meatballs, homemade chicken kebabs and freshly cooks langoustine.

Tasty Spanish seafood for our last dinner at Los Alamos.

There are many reasons that this is our best-selling European destination and after just a week there I now understand why so many people rebook for the following year upon their return and why they are so fully booked so quickly. With friendly people, brilliant horses and fabulous riding it’s hard not to fall in love with Los Alamos.

A group of very happy riders after a canter down the beach.

 

For more information on Los Alamos or to book your place please call Imogen on +44 1299 272 242 or email Imogen@inthesaddle.com.

Categories: Andalusian, beach riding, Equestrian Travel, horse riding, horse riding in Spain, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding in Spain | Leave a comment

Backward Glance – The Sierra Nevada; an original ride

In this blog entry, we take a look at Dallas Love’s rides in the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain, which are celebrating a very special anniversary in 2017.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Here at In The Saddle we’ve featured Dallas Love and her fabulous rides in the Sierra Nevada mountains from the very beginning. After have a rummage around the back office, we found our very first brochure. There on the third page, are details about the Contraviesa and Alpujarra rides…both of which are still running today.

Dallas

The top brochure is from 1997, and only has 22 pages. Quite a difference to the 2017 version, with a whopping 171 pages!

We’ve worked with Dallas for over 20 years, but she has actually been guiding in the Sierra Nevada mountains since 1987. 2017 is her 30th anniversary year.

Dallas has an incredible amount of experience and knows the routes and her horses inside out. Dallas first began guiding back in the 1980’s in order to share with others what she most enjoyed doing; riding a good horse through the mountains.

1

On Dallas’s rides you’ll experience fit, forward-going, well-schooled horses

Having 23 horses and offering top-quality riding trips is more of a way of life than a job. But Dallas says it is all worth it. One of the highlights for Dallas is meeting so many interesting and different people from around the world.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We at In The Saddle heartily agree! That’s the great thing about joining a riding holiday, even if you’re travelling by yourself. By joining a group, you can meet people from all over the world – different professions, interests, cultures and ages. But no matter what the differences are, from the very start you’ll all have at least one thing in common – a love of horses!

P1040352

One unique quality of riding in the Sierra Nevada is the vastness of the mountains and the diversity of the terrain. Dallas loves this part of Spain and feels it is a privilege to be able to ride for days on end through unspoilt countryside without fences, roads, gates, and only the occasional person.

Alpujarra 2 Aug 14

One thing Dallas urges her guests not to leave home without, is good footwear. When riding in the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains, at some points you’ll have to dismount and lead the horses. So sturdy boots with a good sole are imperative.

Spain Holland Paris 08 050

After a long day in the saddle what’s the best way to relax? Dallas says it’s with a long shower and a cold beer….cheers!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

If you’d like to join one of Dallas’ adventures in the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains, then please contact us for a chat about your requirements on +44 1299 272 997 or via email Lucy@inthesaddle.com

As well as our classic Contraviesa and Alpujarra rides, we now offer short breaks for those who may be short of time or a little rusty in the saddle. Also on offer are our Buena Vista and El Marquesado routes, which are more challenging options perfect for fit and experienced riders.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, in the saddle, Riding Holidays, Riding in Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Incredible Andalucians

In this blog entry, Lucy revisits her trip to the Sierra Nevada mountains of Spain back in July 2015. Using a mixture of her own appraisal of the ride and In The Saddle guest feedback, she explains just what makes these rides so appealing.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Our rides in the Sierra Nevada Mountains are special for so many reasons; from the spectacular scenery to the excellent guiding by Dallas Love. What stood out for me and for many of our guests, were the fantastic horses.

During my visit back in July 2015, I fell madly in love with my mount for the week – Laurel. He was the veteran of the group at 17 years old and Dallas’s former lead horse. He was such a pleasure to ride, forward going and sure footed.

small 2

Lucy & Laurel

Let’s also hear from some In The Saddle guests:

Mary from Mid Glamorgan said her mount was “one of the best horses I’ve ever ridden!”.

Helen from Devon said, “this is a fantastic ride; great views and varied riding on very sure-footed, forward-going horses who are very well-mannered. I only wish I could have taken “Mora” my horse home!”

During our trail we were joined by Mordecai, Dallas’s brother. Mordecai is an exceptional horseman and helps Dallas school and prepare the horses for the trail.

The care given to the preparation of the horses is often echoed in guest feedback. For example, Caroline from Northumberland said, “the horses are extremely well-schooled and well-mannered. I’d highly recommend this ride.”

Red from Dallas 2014

Mordecai helping with the school work

I thought the pace might feel a bit slow, with one or two canters a day, but not once was I bored. The terrain varied daily, which kept the riding interesting and exciting. Leading the horses down steep rocky paths was never a problem. And of course, you are riding wonderful quality horses, which is always enjoyable.

Jane from Somerset agreed and says that “the horses were amazing – fit, sure-footed and well-schooled while still being their own ‘characters’. I liked the fact that every day we had times when we had to get off and lead because of the steep terrain – good for preventing rider stiffness!”

Terrian

All of the horses are trained to walk a polite distance behind you when leading. I never felt rushed or pushed by Laurel and there was never a fear of being stood on. I was so impressed with these horses, I have now taught my own horse at home to lead this way.

Cathrine from Manchester also noticed how polite the horses are, saying, “these horses are a pure delight to lead. They walk behind you, at your pace, never interfering with you.”

Dallas has 22 horses at her stables in Bubion. Some she rescued from around Spain and some are now retired, living the luxury life with a stunning view from their mountain pasture.

The love and care that Dallas puts into her horses is really appreciated by guests. For example, Gill from Cumbria says, “all Dallas’s horses are extremely well cared for and well-schooled – a joy to ride.”

20100524_376

Having only a small number of horses over a long period of time, means that Dallas knows each one individually. It is clear to see the love Dallas has for each horse with each pat and cuddle she gives.

It was an honour to ride with her on such beautiful Spanish horses in the equally beautiful Spanish countryside.

Sue Donovan from Lancashire agrees. She says, “Dallas and her team know their horses well and certainly matched the right horse with the right person”.

QT6Z0408

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Many thanks to Lucy for this insight into what makes Dallas’s rides so special.

We still have some availability for week-long and short-break rides this season. For more information on our rides in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, please call the office on +44 1299 272 997 or email Lucy on lucy@inthesaddle.com

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, Riding in Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

These boots were made for riding

At In The Saddle, we really love our Ariat boots. We’ve taken them everywhere with us, from Ecuador to the Azores, Kenya to Mongolia!

The endurance-type boots (such as Terrain and Telluride) are a perfect hybrid of a hiking and riding boot.

Laurel

Lucy in Spain – Terrains are great if you have to do any leading on foot

These boots are comfortable for long days in the saddle, but tough enough to withstand everything an adventure might throw at them – from wading through the floodwaters of the Okavango Delta, to the humidity of the Pantanal or the ferocious winds of the Cotopaxi National Park.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chris sporting her Terrain boots in Mongolia

Country boots are also a great option and last really well. Sarah from In The Saddle has taken her Ariat Grasmere boots all over the world; Kenya, Botswana, France, Spain and South Africa.

SD Kenya

Sarah with her trusty steed and her Grasmeres in Kenya!

For an instructional holiday you might be more comfortable in a tall boot like the Volant, or perhaps a paddock boot/gaiter combination.

IMG_2039

Abbie in Portugal – tall boots are perfect for instructional holidays

Then of course, for a ranch holiday you might want to look and feel the part in a Western boot.

El Bronco Ranch (229)small

Western boots for Western riding at El Bronco (ITS recommends you wear a hard hat)

We love our Ariat boots and take them all over the world with us. But we’d love to hear from you too. Is there anything you take on riding holidays with you that you just can’t do without?

Do feel free to like, share or comment.

Categories: Dressage, ecuador, Equestrian Travel, Horseback safari in Kenya, riding botswana, riding holiday brazil, Riding Holidays Portugal, Riding in Spain, Riding Okavango Delta | 2 Comments

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Rudi from Catalonia in Spain

Here is another popular guide Rudi Stolz from Spain. You can meet Rudi at the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015.

-7s_9EFd6FP2hqSEv5DLZEyK2wW8wK3JknzlYndUy6A

1. How long have you been guiding in Catalonia?

It’s been 21 years now!

2. Where did you guide before this?

Before I came to Spain, I used to work as a mountain guide in the Alps.

3. How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

I always loved working with the horses and had the idea of doing this work in Spain. I decided to move to Spain and build up my own business with trail riding –  and that’s how I got into guiding. I came here with an inspiration and did everything to make my idea become true.

aW3w6g2sTKlGnQrmG2RpLaAhrEvlWGGEb8vNtcWHe0k

4. If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

There was no Plan B for me. I knew I wanted to offer trail riding in Spain and did all that it needed to make this plan work – and it has worked.

5. People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

Actually, to me this job is truly perfect. Being outside, being with horses and with people is a perfect combination for me. I cannot imagine any other job that could be as satisfying as mine!
The downsides? That’s the paperwork that unfortunately also needs to be done!

xHJDtmmZegJVO3jw4U1VzK-_YLmOFYoG_qLtEDtU2YQ

6. If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?

My favourite horse is Tornado. If he were a human, he would be a very important friend of mine. Someone to whom I have a special bond, a very trustful relationship. I know that he would do anything for me and the teamwork is simply perfect. That’s how it is with Tornado – he is as powerful, reliable friend who has my full confidence.

7. What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

Horses! As a guide I cannot live without a very good lead horse. And generally, I just can’t imagine a life without these animals around me.

8. What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?

Once I had a very special guest; a blind man contacted me with the wish to come on a trail with me. I invited him to come to Mas Alba for two days to see if it worked. I took him out on rides  and we tried out the different situations that you deal with on a trail. The result was that he did the Mediterranean Trail – and it was amazing, how he managed everything! He totally fitted into the group and he did everything the others did; he brushed his horse, he put the saddle and the bridle on by himself, he always knew where his things were and where he had to go. It really was a miracle and to me the most memorable ride with guests I ever had!

10527375_734905219881396_485573890661736331_n

9. How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

To me, the question should be how I relax after a day that I do NOT spend in the saddle…really, being in the saddle is nothing I have to relax from! The moment I get on my horse, I feel like being on a holiday!

10. What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

Of course it is important that working with horses is the thing you really want to do and the thing you’re good at. Then, you also have to be sensitive to the people whom you guide. But the art of being a really good guide is to create a unity out of these two beings. Having a sense for bringing horses and people together and make them harmonize is a challenge – and it is a great thing when you see it work! Another important thing is that you keep in mind the time you spend away from home. Being a riding guide is wonderful, but you should really think about if this part of the job is something you can – and want to – handle.

11. Where do you go on holiday?

Actually I don’t really need to go on holiday, as my job gives me the feeling of being on holiday. But when the season is over, I have time to see other places. I travelled to Europe, North and South America – wherever I go, I spend my holiday there on horseback!

W4P5S9F87sFpY9lXDp5pfqVXIhY_50EwANHRZVqpOzM

Thank you Rudi for some fantastic images and another amazing article. Olwen and the team look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet Rudi from Spain at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding in Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.